Stretching into 48 days and following the loss of business on a crucial box-office day like Vishu (Tamil New Year), the theatre strike by Tamil Film Producers’ Council (TFPC) has been called off. The official announcement will most likely be made on 18 March by the stakeholders - TFPC and Digital Service Providers (DSP).
Speaking to The Quint about decision to call off the strike and the way ahead, Senthil Kumar, co-founder of QUBE said, “Over 35 films are waiting and ready for release. Kaala too was cleared by the censor board a long time ago. In what order the films will release is entirely up to the producers”.
"Prabhudeva starrer ‘Mercury’ will be released this Friday for sure. Also Mahesh Babu’s ‘Bharath Anu Nenu’, the Telugu film, whose release too was stalled. In fact, ‘Rangasthalam’ (starring Charan Tej, Telugu) stopped running in theatres because of the ban. It was doing quite well." - Senthil Kumar
Rangasthalam is one of the biggest hits in Telugu this year, starring Charan Tej, who is megastar Chiranjeevi's son.
In another interview, Durairaj, member of TFPC said the releases will happen retrospectively, starting with movies that were to release from 1 March up until last week. Durairaj reportedly also spoke to the producers of the respective films about release dates, who were willing to wait it out.
The Tamil Film Producers’ Council had called for a strike from 1 March over digital service providers (DSP) charging Virtual Print Fee – or VPF – from producers. While the other south Indian film industries expressed solidarity with their demands, the Kannada and Malayalam industries observed only a one-day token strike. The Telugu industry persisted but eventually agreed to the new terms offered by the DSPs.
The Tamil industry, on the other hand, also halted shooting of films from 16 March.
Finally, the three stakeholders met and discussed the terms and conditions on 17 April, which lasted for 48 days.
“Government called for tripartite meeting yesterday, which started at 11 AM and concluded at around 10:45 PM. Chief Minister EPS, Deputy CM OPS and other cabinet ministers were present,” said Senthil.
And how will they go about implementing this? Senthil said they would test the new model under a six-month trial period and see if it worked for them.
"We will know after a six-month trial period whether the almost 50% slash in VPF (Video Projection Fee) will be sustainable. We will cut down on some of our services, like pad minute processing and reduce our area of operations to manage. We expect there will be a rise in number of theatres opting to go digital due to the slashed rates." - Senthil Kumar
“The only reason we agreed to this, is that even the FEFSI workers were called in to strike. They are daily wage workers in the industry. It was hitting them hard, and was sort of an emotional tipping point for us,” said Senthil to The Quint.
Actor and Producers' council head, Vishal also tweeted out after the strike was called off and wrote about the terms and conditions that have been agreed up in the 12-hour tripartite meeting on 17 March.
"Yes the “revamp”s over. We are good to go for four theatrical releases and shoots start soon. E-cinema rates reduced to 50%. The cinema on the way. Computerised ticketing from June. TN Cinema to be 100% transparent online. Online ticketing to be subsidised, flexibility of ticketing will benefit small movies."
/2. My sincere thanks to Fefsi workers n RK Selvamani sir n all producers who stood United for this to https://t.co/FGoMuL7DdP sincere thanks to Kadambur Raju sir n Veeramani sir. Gud times ahead for Tamil cinema.god bless— Vishal (@VishalKOfficial) April 18, 2018
(With inputs from TNM)
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